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Riot - "Unleash The Fire" (CD)

Riot - "Unleash The Fire" CD cover image

"Unleash The Fire" track listing:

1. Ride Hard Live Free
2. Metal Warrior
3. Fall From the Sky
4. Bring the Hammer Down
5. Unleash the Fire
6. Land of the Rising Sun
7. Kill to Survive
8. Return of the Outlaw
9. Immortal
10. Take Me Back
11. Fight Fight Fight
12. Until We Meet Again
13. Thundersteel (Live) (Bonus Track)

Reviewed by on October 28, 2014

"In what is probably the greatest comeback, which would have been satisfying enough as a good tribute paid to fallen hero Mark Reale, Riot rises way above and beyond – pulling off what is arguably the best album released this year."

You’ve heard the story before... a famous and legendary band releases some of the greatest metal albums all time and a founding member, who lived a life of pain from Crohn’s disease, suffers a subarachnoid hemorrhage, lapses into a coma, and dies. Memorial services cause traffic jams at every corner of the globe as fans mourn a fallen hero that wrote the soundtrack to their youth – one that taught them never to give up, no matter what the odds! Oh…..right, you haven’t heard the story…and this is precisely the problem. So goes the history of Riot: a band darkened by a black cloud on what should have been the fast road to being one of the most legendary bands in history. Instead, the group was driven down by bad management, hordes of lineup changes, zero true press coverage to speak of, and fans that overlook truly great songwriting in favor of the latest flavor.

If we were gifted with foresight, Riot should have been named Perseverance, because despite everything that has happened (and if you do not know the story, do yourself a favor and read up) this band has always managed to release the highest quality music, driven by a deep and true love of the craft. Enter “Riot V” – or Riot, Chapter V as it was first conceived, ready to “Unleash the Fire.” And wouldn’t you know it….they released the album that has topped them all. This is usually the point where the ground falls beneath them. With positive vibes flowing, I’d like to believe that the fortune cookie for the next ten years of Riot (V) will read “success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure.”

In what is probably the greatest comeback, which would have been satisfying enough as a good tribute paid to fallen hero Mark Reale, Riot rises way above and beyond – pulling off what is arguably the best album released this year. Sure, if you were to put “Unleash the Fire” up against some of the more “complicated” releases of the year it will look stripped down and “simple.” However, if you consider that music is about how it makes you feel, how much you can remember, and its ability to stand against the test of time you would be hard pressed to find an album that shrieks instant classic more than this.

As if forged just after “Thundersteel” in both production and content value, “Unleash the Fire” – written by “Thundersteel” mastermind Donnie Van Stavern (bass) and guitarist Mike Flyntz – is an indomitable force. New vocalist Todd Michael Hall (Reverence) is the best of both Rhett Forrester and Tony Moore, the most fitting vocalist the band has ever had in its existence. Take songs like “Metal Warrior,” “Bring the Hammer Down,” or “Kill to Survive” and those rhythms and choruses will have you beaming with pride. It doesn’t stop there though... the speedy “Fall From the Sky,” fully engaged “Return of the Outlaw,” and the chanting “Fight Fight Fight” all make up an album that Mark Reale would have been so proud of.

“Unleash the Fire” takes every single successful element in Riot’s entire history and lays it down with a vengeance. It won’t knock you out with its progressive technical prowess or its ability to cover multiple subgenres rendering it indecipherable. Instead it will reach into your heart, that part that still cares about songs that get right to point and purpose of music: memorable songwriting that makes you feel great. It’s an extraordinary achievement when you consider that the majority of it was written by Van Stavern at a time when the dirt on Reale’s memorial was still fresh and the tears on the faces of family, friends, and fans were still flowing. Within this album beats the “immortal soul” of a hero, one that is set to “Unleash the Fire.” All that’s left is for the fans to catch on and make it spread!

Highs: The amount of addicting qualities borders on the ridiculous.

Lows: You will not find a lick of progression or genre bending material.

Bottom line: Riot overcomes the loss of a legend and "unleashes a fire" worthy of AOTY!

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)